Banded Together?

Your reception is just as important as your ceremony as the formalities of the day are over and it’s time to relax. Everyone gets a chance to congratulate and celebrate with you, catch up with people they probably haven’t seen in quite some time and enjoy great food and dancing. While less planning is needed (relatively speaking), it is the part of the day that many attendees look forward to most so there are still details that need to be tended to. One of those is your music source as, getting people on their feet, is a large portion of the day’s merriment.

Bands are something you don’t see nearly as often as in the past so hiring one would give a personal touch and set your reception apart from most others. Additionally, they are great if you are looking to stay within a specific genre of music and aren’t finicky about which songs are played. However, they are more expensive as you are paying for time and labor and, the possibility that they will be able to perform an eclectic variety of music (in a way that is recognizable) or stick to an exact playlist is uncertain.

DJs are more cost-effective and have easy access to all types of music ranging from the Big Band era to the newest releases that have just hit the charts. Unlike a professional band, the songs played will be those of the actual artists so there will be no mistake as to the recognition of your choices.  You can give them a list of “To Play” and “Don’t Play” songs, the order and time you want to hear them, and (fingers crossed), enjoy your evening without worry.

Unfortunately, DJs often view each gig as an opportunity to showcase their personal skills which can lead to unwanted remixes, morphing your song order into a sequence he/she feels more appropriate and numerous other potential difficulties.

A great way to sidestep all these concerns (AND POSSIBLY FOR FREE) is to use an MP3 player.  Compile a few hours of music, including some throwbacks that have meaning to your college friends, ones that the older guests will appreciate and whatever else you and your fiancé choose. They can play in a definitive order or be set to shuffle and the only potential cost is having to download tunes you don’t already have in your collection(s). However, it is imperative that you inquire about your venue’s sound system, any fees for using it and do a test run to be certain everything will work as expected.

The allure of live music and the prestige of a DJ are lost when you opt for an MP3 player. There is a time and place for both of those but, on your big day, the allure and prestige, attention and excitement are all focused solely on you and your fiancé. Your personalized music and special songs will make your guests realize the energy and thought you took to include each of them in your celebration and appreciate your doing so.

What a PURRfect Idea

Many people have pets with whom they have spent many years, treated as children and shared some of the most important moments of their lives. There is no reason your wedding, from beginning to end, should be any exception as not only does it trump any special time as of yet but would ease your stress load and add to the fun of the entire process. Following are just a few ways to do so….

Engagement: Although it would be out of your control, how wonderful would it be if your fiancé proposed to you by tying your engagement ring around your pet’s neck with a bright ornate bow or fancied a “Will you marry me sign?” for him/her to walk into the room and surprise you with?

Ceremony: Have your furry friend escort the flower girl down the aisle on a leash or with a collar adorned with flowers that match your bouquet. Alternately, let your little one act as the ring bearer (assuming they are the type of animal who can do so). Even if they don’t make it directly to you, it would provide comic relief and entertainment for all your guests.

If your animal is small enough, forgo your bouquet all together and carry him or her down the aisle instead, whether in your arms, a basket or any other type of bag.

Photos: If you want your special one to partake in your wedding but worry about their temper, guests with potential allergies, restrictions from your venue etc., you can add them every step along the way beginning with your Save the Date cards, including them in your engagement photos and even make arrangements for their presence during your day of photos taken outdoors and away from your invitees.

Added Extras: No matter what species your beloved pet is, consider having bride and groom replicas as that type as your cake topper. You could also choose something reflective of your someone who plays such a special role in your life and incorporate it into your reception, whether it be paw print stones leading to your reception space (if you have a cat or dog), using feathers in your centerpieces if your favorite friend is a bird and so on.

The options are limitless as is the amount of fun you can have and just how much of a difference including your animal will make not only to you but to your guests and to him/her as well. It is important, however, to ensure that someone is available to tend to their needs so, while you are able to share your wedding with them, you and your groom are not constantly distracted by looking after your little one.

It’s All Suitable

While the options for your wedding dress are so many and easily customizable that they may seem overwhelming, those for your groom’s attire are relatively few and, honestly, not very easy to individualize.  Thankfully, there are ways to play with accessories to help him both stand out from the crowd and show a glimpse of his personality.

If you decide on a tie, let him choose one that is fun, unique and sets him apart whether in shape, color or style. Perhaps he could wear a skinny tie or a bowtie while the groomsmen wear regular ones or he can opt for a playful color or even a print (as long as it stays within your color scheme and doesn’t cause a distraction of course).

Pocket squares can be either formal or casual, are often unexpected and come in every variety you can possibly imagine. They are a great way to add a whimsical touch to what is not (unlike your dress) the most exciting outfit your groom will ever wear. They can also be used as a handkerchief to wipe away any tears and kept as a special memento of your wedding.

Leave behind the boring, plain colored shirt and deck your fiancé out in stripes or some type of print. Depending on how far you want to go, let the stripes be diagonal or zig-zagged and the print be checkered or even floral. Again, it’s important not to cross the line and become obnoxious or completely clash with everything else but, if executed correctly, it’s a great way to show your husband’s personality and let him shine.

Should you opt for boutonnieres, make sure his is special in some sort of way, whether size, type of flower or by letting him wear one created as an ode to things he loves. For example, if he is an avid cyclist, have his flowers sitting in the basket of a miniature bicycle or, if he has been obsessed with comic books since childhood, craft his boutonniere into origami flowers made from comic book pages.

Suits are never a man’s favorite outfit, no matter the occasion, as many men are required to wear, at least most elements of them, every day for work. Therefore, a lack of excitement over your fiancés wedding garb should not be taken personally. That is why thinking outside of the box and adding personal touches is both important and a wonderful way to make him feel special and included.

Here’s to You

Seemingly, your wedding day is all about YOU as it is the day YOU have dreamt of your entire life, the day YOU have lost sleep over, stressed about every detail of and, for the most part, YOU are the focus of. However, in actuality, has nothing to do with YOU as it is a symbol of YOU becoming WE and, without your fiancé, there wouldn’t even be a wedding. Show your partner in life how much he means to you by giving him a meaningful gift on your special day that will last as long as your marriage and be a reminder of your love for him.

Have his closest friends and family make short videos (which can be easily done on their phones and sent to you) sharing how they met, why they love him so much, a favorite memory and some words of wisdom for your future together. Compile all of them into a single movie, play it at the reception and your thoughtfulness will knock his socks off.

Make arrangements for a guest who had to decline your invitation, leaving your groom feeling really upset, to make a surprise appearance. If they did so due to financial constraints, pay for their travel. If the reason was a prior commitment, reach out to them and let them know just how much their presence would mean and how disappointed your fiancé was to learn they would be unable to attend. Not only is it a gift to both your husband and the guest but also to you when you see the excitement and joy on his face.

Keep a journal of what has led up to your ceremony including each decision and the reasons behind them, the smallest ways he has made the stress of the entire process worth every second, how you have chosen things to incorporate his tastes and the excitement the experience has evoked about spending your life together. It is a tangible demonstration of both your devotion and commitment and he will be touched by how much you did to make your wedding flawless.

Of course the type of gift you give your future husband is both endless and easily personalized dependent upon his likes and dislikes. One thing it is not dependent upon is a budget as, whether you can afford to spend a million dollars or merely pennies, the importance of the gift is the sentiment behind it and the demonstration that, while most people were focused on you, you were focused on him.

Tis the Season

If your heart is set on a particular day, choosing your wedding date is one less thing to worry about. If you aren’t one who falls in that category, selecting the right time can be more challenging than you think as there are factors to consider. Breaking down the pros and cons of each season is a good place to start and, at the very least, helps narrow down your time frame.

Spring is the time of year associated with rejuvenation and newness as colors begin to reemerge and the climate warms following the drabness and cold of winter. The lush landscaping and countless flowers beginning to bloom make for wonderful photos and beautiful bouquets. Chances are your friends will be thrilled to get together and celebrate after the hullabaloo of the holidays is over.

Because it is not the most popular time for a wedding, you may be able to get lower rates with vendors but, with summer approaching, the competition will increase for venues, available dates and prices will begin to rise. Additionally, the weather can be finicky and occasional showers do occur without warning.

Summer is the most popular time to wed for a variety of reasons. With children out of school, parents often plan on a more relaxed schedule including vacation time which would allow your friends and family separated by distance to share in your special day with you. Also, due to the hectic nature of the first half of the year, chances are your guests haven’t been spending much.  Therefore, they may have a bit in their budget for extra special wedding gifts for you.

On the negative side, the first thing is the weather. Regardless of how cool the inside of a venue may be, the heat can cause issues with your hair and makeup during outdoor photos, not to mention the discomfort for those who either just don’t like the heat or cannot tolerate it well. On another note, because it is the most popular time for a wedding, prices will be at their peak and there is a chance that some of your guests may be invited to another ceremony on the same day.

Fall is ideal for you if you are a fan of oranges, gold, rust and darker colors as well as falling leaves and cooler, brisk temperatures. It is a time that brings with it a sense of togetherness and tranquility. With fruits, vegetables and leaves being abundant, there are numerous ways to create one-of-a-kind decorations that are not only elegant but incorporate the sentiments of these months.

Unfortunately, if berries and greenery won’t replace your heart’s desire for bright, vibrant flowers, this may not be the time of year for you unless you are willing to have flowers shipped in from wherever they may be available (at a very steep price). Also, school begins again, people have plans for Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving so you need to keep those dates in mind.

Winter might not be your first choice (as it isn’t for most brides) but, with it comes an air of coziness and romance unmatched by any other time of year. Not only is everyone already feeling a sense of togetherness, the sun sets earlier and there is nothing warmer in the world than closely holding the arm of your new husband. Vendors are more likely to be available and because there is less competition, not only are prices typically already lower, there is often room for negotiation.

Despite the unexpected pros, there are some drawbacks. One is that the cold and lack of foliage can make outdoor photos less desirable so many of them may have to be done indoors. As well, your guests are probably saving money for the holidays, have preexisting plans and travel arrangements are much more expensive and difficult during this time.

Your wedding will be wonderful regardless of the day you choose but, realistically, no matter the day, there are always factors and possible conflicts that may arise which are out of your control. A seasonal breakdown is an easy way to quickly eliminate large spans of time so you can begin focusing on the particular day.

All in the Families

Your wedding symbolizes the beginning of a life with your husband filled with new adventures, traditions, memories and, most likely, children of your own. It is also a blending of two existing families as you become a member of your husband’s and he does yours. This special time is a very appropriate one to remind your family that your bond and loving relationship will continue to grow.

When making your registry list, casually ask your parents what they would want if they were to get married again. Keep the response in mind and purchase it for them as a surprise (don’t add it to your list or they will likely find out). Doing so is a fun way to include your parents in your planning while giving them a keepsake of their own choosing without their even knowing.

Personalized handkerchiefs are appropriate for both of your parents and come in handy to wipe away tears during your ceremony. Additionally, thoughtful embroidered messages show your gratitude for the role they have played in your life to date as well as remind them that you will continue to nurture and treasure that relationship.  

One way to demonstrate the joining of your family with that of your husband’s in a creative and sentimental way also requires a bit of secrecy and snooping. Each of you need to ask friends and family which song your respective parents played for their first dance. After the two of you have danced to the one of your own choosing, play each of theirs. This shows that, as your new life begins, it does not do so as a party of two, but as a party of too many to count.

Your future in-laws should not be forgotten and perhaps the most meaningful token of appreciation is a handwritten note. Express to them not only your excitement about what lies ahead with their son, but your gratitude for their acceptance of you, and most importantly, for the wonderful job they did raising the one person who makes you complete.

Parents sometimes fear that they are “losing” their son or daughter once he/she gets married (perhaps it comes from the notion of “giving away”) rather than seeing it as gaining another child. With time, that fear dissipates but, small gestures on your part can keep it from ever arising.

Never(tr)ending Ideas

Every year (and often each season), new and creative styles and ideas for your wedding day emerge as the notion of what is acceptable or expected continues to evolve. These allow every bride, from the most conservative to the extraordinarily eclectic, have some fresh ideas in their stockpile from which to choose.

Sometimes two is better than one (pieces that is). More and more brides are opting for gowns consisting of a top and separate skirt. Doing so opens up the door to infinite options by letting you mix and match fabrics, styles and even colors. Additionally, you will have fun designing your own dress and know that it will truly be one of a kind.

Having a friend or loved one perform your ceremony is also growing in popularity although it requires research as well as time and effort. The person you select must be willing to go through the necessary steps to become ordained and the laws regarding officiants vary depending on location. On the upside, doing so gives you the chance to work together on the ceremony script, making it highly personalized.

Flowers, whether for bouquets, boutonnieres or table decorations, are being taken over by berry-accented greenery, moss, ivy and succulents. Doing so can be pulled off in a very elegant, unexpected and surprising (not to mention cost-effective) manner.

It was typically expected that your wedding would be filled with bright and cheerful colors as a symbol of your marriage. As options expand, there is an increase in those who opt for neutrals, whether all white, ecru, tan or similar shades with very few accents. Surprisingly, rather than appearing drab, such tones radiate while creating a sense of elegance.

You can step outside the box and experiment with what is new and modern without doing so in ways that will make you look back at your wedding photos and wonder what you were thinking. Do not be afraid of the word “trend” as it don’t not have to be synonymous with blatant or over the top.